In the great east African rift valley western side of Uganda is Rwenzori national park that straddles virunga national park of Democratic republic of Congo. Rwenzori Mountain was named after the legendary mountains of the moon that are snow-capped and believed to have glaciers, making it one of the sources of World’s longest river “the river Nile”
The Rwenzori Mountain which highest up to 5109m OR 16762 feet’s above the sea level. This mountain is sometimes called the mountain of the “moon” because it’s thought to be the source of river Nile the world longest river, its peak is always snow caped and the melting snow sometimes feed the tributaries of river Nile.
The highest mountain Rwenzori peak is permanently snow caped. Margherta peak on mount Stanley is the highest point in the range. the mountain was formed about 3 million years ago under in extremely humid area frequently involved with clouds and also the mountain ranges are source of many rivers that flow down to Kasese, bundibugyo and Kabarore districts , the Bakonjo and Bamba live in the lower ranges of the mountain on both Uganda and DR Congo sides.
Mountain Rwenzori national park was gazette as national park in 1991 and both id the heritage site and Ramsar site. The park hosts over 18 species of mammals , 9 species of reptiles, 219 species of birds and 6 species of amphibians.
The mountain attracts tourists who come for mountain climbing as well as sewing animals that live in the lower slopes of mountain Rwenzori like elephants, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, bushbucks, primate watching and the three horned chameleon that is mostly seen here.
Location and accessibility
Rwenzori mountains national park is located in the districts of kabarole, Kasese, Bundibudyo and in the counties of the Democratic republic of Congo. The park can be accessed via kasese or fort portal which is 5-7 hours’ drive from Kampala. The park can also be reached by plane Entebbe international airport or Kanjansi airstrip to kasese or fort portal airstrip, later transfer by road to the park.
The word rwenzori came from a local word “Rwejura” which means rainfall, because of the snow-capped peaks; the area receives a lot of rainfall all year round. Therefore, this makes the slopes of the mountains fertile thus enhancing agriculture in the area. The national park was gazetted in 1991, later in 1994; it was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage and later in 2008 become RAMSAR site.
Mountain Rwenzori National Park is a conservation area with a status of the UNESCO world heritage site because of the unique flora and fauna like the plant flowers and the beautiful lobelias plus waterfalls, glaciers and a lot of other attractive mountainous vegetation. Presence of these glaciers, snowfields, waterfalls and has made the park as one of the mainly attractive Alpine areas around the world. The park zones are well dotted with flowers and a couple of plants that have unique colors because of the environmental condition, the ecological value is very awesome.
This national Park hosts over 70 species of mammals plus 217 species of birds and 17 of them can only be found in Rwenzori only, 19 are the Albertine rift valley epidemics which justifies UNESCO labeling it a key Birding Area and also the rare type of vegetation including the beautiful lobelias.
At about 1800 meters, one can view a variety of bird species like: Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Long-eared Owl, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Strange Weaver, Archers’ Robin-chat, Rwenzori Batis, White-starred Robin, Montane Sooty Boubou, Slender-billed Starling, Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Blue-headed Sunbird, Barbets, Golden-winged Sunbird, Greenbuls, IIladopsis, Apalises, Crimson wings and Flycatchers.
Main park activities are: bird watching, hiking, nature walks, primate walks, while on your primate walk safari spot a number of primates like the chimpanzees and other monkeys.
Cultural tours are of values in the area because of mixed culture of Butooro, Bamba, and Bakonjo each show casing unique travel experience.
Visiting the local communities is an opportunity to witness the locals at the foothills of the mountain of the moon carrying out their cultural lifestyles and activities like cultural dances and if you are lucky, you might even get some lessons on drumming and dancing. You will also visit the Ruboni village where you will learn about the lifestyles of old of the forefathers of the mountains of the moon.
About Rwenzori mountains
Mountain Rwenzori is the third highest mountain in Africa rising up to 16710 feet above the sea and the highest peaks are permanently snowcapped. Margherita Peak is the highest peak on the ranges, making it the 3rd highest peak in Africa together with its twin peak, Mount Stanley, which is within the park.
The 4th and 5th highest peaks, Mount Speke and Mount Baker, are also within the park. The mountain ranges were first brought to the worlds notice in CE 150 by Alexandrian geographical researcher and photographer, Pletomy, when hedescribed a stunning mountain which he christened “mountain of the moon.” Later in 1899, English explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, was as spell bound as Pletomy when he beheld the ranges and renamed them the “Cloud Mountains”.